It Sticks Out Half A Mile

The Dad's Army spin-off set in 1948
from archive.org

Dad's Army is considered to be one of the greatest sitcoms ever made. The series had a sequel; It Sticks Out Half A Mile which was broadcast on BBC Radio 2 in the 1980s.

The series was written by Harold Snoad and Michael Knowles, the team who were responsible for the radio adaptations of the Dad's Army television series. When Dad's Army finished in 1977, Snoad felt it was a pity that such wonderful characters would be lost. He suggested to Knowles that they should, with the agreement from original writers Jimmy Perry and David Croft, develop It Sticks Out Half A Mile.

The original idea for the spin-off, set in 1948, was that it would feature Mainwaring and Wilson meeting up after the war had ended. The premise was that Wilson had moved out of Walmington-on-Sea and become the manager of his own branch of Swallow's Bank in Frambourne, another fictional town on the south coast. Meanwhile Mainwaring had moved to Switzerland, where he worked as the supervisor at a firm making cuckoo clocks. However the Ex-Captain had just moved back to England because the Swiss air did not suit the chest of his dreaded wife Elizabeth. On his return, Mainwaring was shocked to learn that Frambourne council wanted to demolish their old pier, so goes to take out a loan, not knowing that the manager of the bank is Wilson. Wilson gives him the money, and Mainwaring gets to buy the pier from the council, who are delighted that someone wants to buy such a wreck.

A pilot episode with this premise was recorded with Arthur Lowe and John Le Mesurier returning as Mainwaring and Wilson. Lowe was not well at the time of the recording and kept slurring his lines, so badly in fact that at times he sounded drunk. Sadly, Lowe's health continued to fluctuate and he eventually died 10 months later, before the pilot aired or more episodes could be produced.

Consequently, it seemed that the idea for It Sticks Out Half A Mile was at an end; but at Lowe's memorial service, his widow Joan Cooper told Snoad and Knowles that Lowe had loved the idea and that in his honour they should continue - so they did.

As a result, a second pilot was recorded, but now it was ex-ARP Warden Hodges buying the pier, with young Pike as his business partner (but only because he was needed to get the loan from 'Uncle Arthur'). They easily get the money, as Pike threatens Wilson that if he does not get it, he will reveal to his mother (whom the bank manager is still seeing), that Wilson had a fling with another woman when he first moved into Frambourne.

After the second pilot, first broadcast in 1983, the cast went on to record a further 12 episodes. The series saw Hodges and Pike managing the pier, with Wilson acting as their financial advisor. There was also the introduction of a new regular character: Wilson's secretary Miss Perkins, played by Vivienne Martin. Perkins, just like every other woman ever to come into contact with Wilson, is head-over-heels in love with him.

Sadly, Le Mesurier himself died just two days after the first episode of It Sticks Out Half A Mile was broadcast. Had he survived, it seems likely that a second series would have been commissioned.

"A seaside saga of pier perpetuation starring John Le Mesurier as Arthur Wilson, Ian Lavender as Frank Pike, Bill Pertwee as Bert Hodges and Vivienne Martin as Miss Perkins."

  1. Loyal Support (26.9Mb)
  2. The Business Proposition (24.3Mb)
  3. The Bank Loan (26.3Mb)
  4. Who Owned the Pier (24.6Mb)
  5. Inspecting the Piles (24Mb)
  6. Pike in Love (24.1Mb)
  7. The Friends of Frambourne Pier (25.8Mb)
  8. The First Meeting (24.2Mb)
  9. Marooned (26.7Mb)
  10. The Fancy Dress Parade (26.1Mb)
  11. The Builder (25.3Mb)
  12. War Damage (24.4Mb)
  13. The Pin-Up Girl (23.8Mb)
  14. Hidden Treasure (24.6Mb)

MP3 files hosted by archive.org.